Understanding your baby’s sleeping patterns may help you in implementing a system that works for you both.
As soon as a baby is born, it finds itself in a strange environment, after only ever knowing the comfort of the darkened womb. For the first few weeks, it is useful to have blinds or curtains to sufficiently darken the nursery. It is also useful to have a dimmer switch or a night-light for visits and night time feeding. Babies sleep best in rooms kept at a constant temperature. Ventilation is important but avoid direct draughts near your baby’s sleeping area. In the cooler months, a heating system may be necessary but this must be kept well out of reach of an infant.
Many first-time parents place the newborn in a darkened room and tiptoe about the house, fearful of waking the baby. Remember babies hear their first sounds while in the womb and manage to sleep. Second babies’ manage to sleep through older siblings banging and crashing about.
Developing a Sleeping Routine
If infant is put to bed while still awake, it will learn to put itself to sleep. This may be difficult to establish at first. Most babies need some sort of comfort or aid to help them get to sleep, such as rocking, massage, the breast, a bottle, a pram, a car ride, a walk, or just being held.
Understanding sleep patterns will help you establish a pattern. Our sleeping state consists of two different types of sleep known as light or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, and deep sleep.
When a baby is born, its sleeping pattern generally begins with light sleep for about 25 minutes progressing to deep sleep for another 25 minutes.
This 50 minutes cycle repeats over and over to form much of the first three months of sleep routine.
It has been discovered that the periods of REM are essential for your baby’s mental wellbeing and to prevent exhaustion.
As your baby gets older , it is likely to settle into a more solid pattern of starting sleep in the deep-sleep phase.
Baths & Massage
A warm, deep bath before bedtime will soothe your baby, further enhanced by adding a drop of lavender or chammomile essential oil. Baby massage not only enhances your baby’s long-term health, but is also invaluable in relieving many ailments common to infants at night. Mucus congestion and digestive upsets often wake a troubled baby at regular intervals.
Sleeping on the back is a preferred option for newborn babies. SIDS Council of Australia recommends this. Alternate the side to which your baby’s head falls by slightly turning your baby’s hips to face the same direction. This will avoid neck and upper back muscles developing unevenly.
If you choose to put your baby on its side, make sure the lower arm is positioned well forward to prevent your baby from rolling onto its stomach.